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October 26, 2010

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City considers booths' future

THE blue information booths set up around the city have been of help to World Expo visitors and tourists, but whether they should be kept after the event is a question now on the organizer's discussion list.

The city is asking the public how many of the booths should be retained and which should be removed as complaints have been raised about them taking up too much sidewalk space.

Over the past six months, volunteers, consisting of university students with a good command of English and senior residents familiar with the city, have been offering guidance to visitors in the 1,000-plus information booths around Shanghai.

"The department is now collecting the numbers and locations of the booths that each district intends to keep," said Wang Ting, from the volunteer department of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

The downtown Luwan District government applied to keep four booths on Huaihai Road and in the Xintiandi area and to add a new one in the Dapuqiao area. It plans to subsidize the post-Expo °?operation of the booths.

"We don't want the service to disappear totally after the event," said Li Haiying, a local government official.

"We want to preserve the volunteering spirit of the Expo," he added.

The volunteer service is not confined to serving the Expo. The booths have taken on much more varied functions over the past six months.

Volunteers' tips

Shanghai Jiao Tong University launched a study on over 100 booth volunteers - nearly 80 percent of respondents said their work is not directly connected with the Expo.

Most of the inquiries are focused on getting directions and travel tips in the city.

An interviewee surnamed Li said: "Those inside hotels are not necessary, as tourists can consult hotel staff."

Zhang Yingqi, a booth volunteer in a downtown shopping mall, said: "Fewer than 20 people a day asked me for help. Most of the questions were about the mall instead of the Expo. It's too hard for visitors to find the booth in the mall and it should be removed."

Moreover, some of the booths in quiet locations saw little activity and some caused trouble for pedestrians and are located upon the part of the sidewalks used by blind people.

"We don't need to keep all the booths," Li said.


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